A Bad Place to Die, A Tennessee Smith Western ISBN: 9780786042555 Pinnacle Books, a western by Easy Jackson.
Tennie is 18 years old, orphanage-raised and mistakenly is included in a group of mail order brides arriving in Broken Bit to be picked up by their prospective husbands. Her Ashton Granger arrives, they are married and head out to his nearby ranch. He is considerably older than expected but neat, the ranch is falling apart, his 3 sullen sons – Rusty 13, Lucas 10, Badger 6 do not want her. Unexpectedly a wagon appears at the ranch driven by Ben McNally accompanied by George Washington (Wash) Jones, an obvious gunfighter, on horseback. In the wagon is a man with an arrow in his abdomen that the town’s doctor is too drunk to remove. Tennie instantly finds Wash quite attractive while he explains it is too delicate a situation for him to try to remove and thought Granger might help. Ashton had been a surgeon in the war but ceased afterwards because he ‘had had enough’. He does remove it successfully and says the man must remain for several days to make sure there is no infection. Wash and Ben bunk outside and just shortly thereafter, Ashton’s heart stops and Tennie is a widow now responsible for the 3 boys according to law. During the following few days the wounded man is improving with Tennie’s care but Broken Bit’s mayor, accompanied by the town’s leading businessmen, arrive to inform her that Granger had taken out a mortgage that was due and she must pay it or leave. However, he suggested that they could appoint her Sheriff and she and the boys could live in that office that contained living quarters on the first floor with the Jail above. He explains that a woman in that position might help to tone down the violent nature of Broken Bit. She thanks him and they leave. Wash tells her to look through her husband’s papers and not to allow herself to be forced into signing anything and leaves. She and her newly acquired stepsons move into the jail quarters and from this most unusual beginning a most interesting tale begins to unfold with a number of fascinating characters and activities being added.
Discussion: The author has written a plot similar to others of the era but with a protagonist and twist that is most unusual for its early western setting. The characters are thoughtfully portrayed and the story moves along at a pace sufficient to stimulate enough intrigue that the reader feels almost compelled to see what eventually is going to happen to Tennie and her acquired brood. A caveat must be inserted for devotees of traditional ‘old westerns’ and some additional editing would have been helpful. However, if you are interested in reading an ‘appealing’ western with a charmingly portrayed protagonist and interesting supporting characters, you’re going to enjoy this one
5* Unusual western with a charmingly portrayed protagonist.
INNER LOOK ISBN: 9781942756873 Penmore Press, a thriller in e-book copyright and written by Marc Liebman.
This is another book in the Josh Haman adventure series that follows the exploits of this highly intelligent and resourceful naval pilot as he continues incredible activity for the United States. The story opens with a report of FBI agents having been apprehended for passing top secret material to the Russians. This is followed by a Prologue detailing a mission over North Korea in 1962 where an American pilot was killed as a result of a wing structural malfunction, leaving his wife a widow with a two-year old son who also became a U.S. pilot killed in action. The story then begins by detailing a military exercise wherein Josh Haman is participating in attempts to discover silent running submarines. Surprisingly, they also detect a Russian sub which they report and are told to follow. Due to incompetence of the exercise commander, before they can be relieved, he runs out of fuel and must ditch. With his experience, he is successful and saves all of his crew as well. The next details set forth are an action in North West Vietnam in 1972 where the reader finds Navy Seal Lieutenant-Commander Marty Cabot and his men discovering a hidden launching base that was wreaking havoc on American aircraft. Another episode where Cabot is helping the Philippine government in 1983 in action against the Moro National Liberation Front. Here further information is discovered of still more leakage of classified material, this time associated with China. The reader then is brought into a somewhat unusual meeting called by William Casey, Head of Central Intelligence for the U.S. Among those present are Juanita Jaramillo, Head of Pacific Operations Analysis and Diane Scoville of the State Department. With introduction of these main protagonists the story proceeds as Josh, accompanied by equally accomplished Navy Seal Marty Cabot, is assigned to attempt to discover the FBI or CIA member(s) who is the mole(s), passing top secret material to the Russians and/or Chinese. Presentation of further detail of this fast paced, fascinatingly involved espionage/counterespionage tale would be a distinct disfavor to the reader.
Discussion: This is a thrilling, completely believable espionage thriller with considerable time in Argentina and the United States but spilling out onto an international stage. The author, a man who has had considerable combat experience in several of the areas, exhibits intimate knowledge of all of the places supplied and offers numerous interesting ‘aside’ bits of information. A glossary is included that this reader suggests would be most helpful if read before beginning the story. Much of the material may be known by veterans. However, if one has served in an earlier war, a number of items may be helpful.
4* Actually 4.5* (-1/2 for proofing) Highly recommended espionage tale